Oddbins not out of the red yet

Oddbins has revised its pledge to break even by the end of year, setting its sights on 2010.

Managing director Simon Baile told OLN the chain was forecast to be £1.5 million down by December 2009, missing his initial target because of the recession.

Commenting on figures due to be filed at Companies House today, Baile said Oddbins lost £6.25 million on a turnover of £76 million for the year to December 2008, compared to a deficit of £8.7 million the previous year.

However, Baile said the business was losing £6.4 million when he took it on from Castel last August.

He added: “The difference between where we will be at the end of 2009 and where we want it to be in 2010 is not huge. We don’t have to do a big job. We’ve got the products now and I think the staff believe we’ve got the products and the will to do it. It’s all possible.”

The release of the accounts comes a fortnight after a public “kicking match” with Castel which called in receivers to recover funds it claimed it was still owed.

Under the terms of the sale, Oddbins was required to pay funds into a joint account but there was a dispute over the amount outstanding.

As a result, Oddbins withheld sums from the account. Both parties confirmed the disagreement had been resolved, though Baile admitted Oddbins were “very upset” that this action has been taken.

Some suppliers said it had made them uneasy about dealing with the retailer. One said: “We have an outstanding bill with Oddbins. We’re looking to revise payment terms.”

In response, Baile said: “We are pretty good payers. We’re on the nail with the big suppliers and take our responsibility very seriously. Our creditor days are well below the UK industry standard.”

On his relationship with Castel, he added: “We respect them. Despite all the mistakes Castel made, they did not run away from Oddbins, and they could have done a long time ago.

“They could have said, ‘This is too hard, let’s tip it over’ and they didn’t.

“Lots of people could have been out of a job, it could just be a website by now. People wanted to take it off their hands and cut it up. But the said ‘No we don’t want that to happen. We want to give it to someone who will take care of it’, which is quite generous.

“Whether you like them, whether you agree or disagree with them, I hold them in high regard for that, because it would have been easy to turn the taps off.”